Storm watchers continue to monitor Hurricane Isaac, which is has now made landfall. We'll continue to update this post all day long with updates on the storm and the preparations being made all along the Gulf Coast.
All times Eastern
3:34 p.m.: The first confirmed death attributed to the hurricane was 36-year-old Carlos Medellin-Guillen, who fell 18 feet from a tree he climbed when he went to move a truck from under it, in preparation for the storm.
3:05 p.m.: The NHC's latest advisory downgrades Isaac to a tropical storm, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph. It's now about 50 miles west-southwest of New Orleans and 55 miles south-southeast of Baton Rouge, traveling northwest at about 6 mph. The summary from the advisory:
...ISAAC WEAKENS TO A TROPICAL STORM...LIFE-THREATENING HAZARDS FROM STORM SURGE AND INLAND FLOODING ARE STILL OCCURRING...
3 p.m.: New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has proclaimed a dusk-to-dawn curfew as the storm continues to batter Louisiana and 600,000 are without power in the state, nearly a third of those in New Orleans.
2:52 p.m.: Sad news from MSNBC contributor Melissa Harris-Perry, who lost the house she and her husband bought just a month ago in the hopes of renovating it. Nobody was hurt, Harris-Perry tweeted, but it sure is a bummer:
12:39 p.m.: There's an amazing satellite photo that was posted by NASA today, taken overnight (and added to the top of this post. It shows Isaac from above with city lights visible through the storm. Gives you a better sense of the storm's size. Also this image posted on Instagram by The Weather Channel's Stephanie Abrams gives you a good sense of how little the storm has moved today.
11:42 a.m.: The AP has some raw video of the storm surge hitting Biloxi, Mississippi.
10:00 a.m.: Issac is only moving at rate of six miles an hour and the latest storm projections will have it centered on southern Louisiana as late as Thursday afternoon. Issac remains a Category 1 storm, but the lack of movement and the fact that isn't weakening, means that by the time it's over Isaac could cause flood damage to rival much more powerful hurricanes.
The storm covers a huge area, so it took a long time to reach full strength and will take an equally long to diminish as well. (Compared to a more powerful, but more compact hurricane.) The storm moved back out to sea after its initial landfall (gaining more strength) and still hasn't totally moved on shore, so it's continuing to draw moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. All the rain will be concentrated in a vulnerable low lying area for most of the next two days. Pumps and levees seem to be holding for now, but it's going to be a long week in New Orleans.
9:38 a.m.: Here's a quick on-the-scene video from this morning, found on YouTube.
8:22 a.m.: The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore has bee standing in the worst of winds all morning to give viewers a sense of how strong the storm his. Here he is in the French Quarter of New Orleans, fighting off a major gust.
8:11 a.m.: The tornado warnings have expired, but Flood Warnings are in effect all across Southeastern Louisiana. The sun is just now coming up in New Orleans so we may start getting a better sense of damage and flooding. The eye of the storm appears to moving to the west of New Orelans, toward Baton Rouge, but the strongest band of rain is right over the city at the moment. There are reports of wind gusts over 110 miles per hours, but most are in the 70s and 80s.
6:40 a.m.: A Tornado Warning has been issued for Jackson County, Alabama. A Tornado Watch is in effect for most of the Gulf Coast. All warnings and watches are being updated on the NOAA website.
5:58 a.m.: Hundreds of thousands of people are already without power in the New Orleans area, as you can see on this map of the local utility company, Entergy.
5:34 a.m., WEDNESDAY: Hurricane Isaac made a second landfall around 3:15 a.m. and has come to nearly a complete stop along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. That means it is expected to barely move or weaken throughout the day on Wednesday, pummeling the area around New Orleans for most of the day. While the storm is not as strong some other hurricanes, the location and lack of movement suggest that a tremendous amount of wind and rain will strike Southern Louisiana, New Oreleans, and part of Mississippi over the next 48 hours. Isaac has reached what is likely to be it peak powers, concentrating its strongest effects on the edge of the coast.
Plaquemines Parish, which juts out off the coast into the Gulf of Mexico, is currently getting the worst of the storm and the eye has slowed to a crawl and dumping intense rainfall on the area. There are reports of some homes already seeing a foot of water and more water is coming over the top of "private levees" which are smaller than the bigger reinforced state levees that hold back the worst of the water. However, that does provide an indication of the amount rainfall the area is getting and will continue to get. Current forecasts call for 12 to 16 inches of rain in the hardest hit areas.
6:25 p.m.: One detail to keep in mind based on the last NHC report, which put Isaac about 105 miles south southeast of New Orleans, heading on a northwesterly course, is that the most dangerous place to be in a hurricane is to the east of the eye, where the storm's counterclockwise spin makes it "most dangerous in terms of storm surge, winds, and tornadoes," NOAA reminds us. Let's hope that part misses the most populated areas.
6:01 p.m.: As the storm's predicted 7 p.m. landfall draws near, the weather is intensifying along the Gulf Coast, and power is going out. The Weather Channel reports via Reuters that 6,000 people are without power in Alabama and 10,000 in Louisiana. NOAA spotter Craig Ziobert tweets this photo of the surf hitting the Alabama coast:
And the Weather Channel's Hurricane Central tweets this image of the storm approaching the Louisiana coastline:
4:52 p.m.: The NHC just issued its latest report, which shows the storm still landing just to the west of the Mississippi River, heading northwest. The maximum sustained winds are now at 80 mph, up from the 75 mph in the previous bulletin. The summary reads:
...ISAAC GETTING BETTER ORGANIZED AS IT NEARS SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA...FLOODING FROM STORM SURGE AND RAINFALL EXPECTED...
4:45 p.m.: Offshore oil rigs are reporting gusts of up to 90 mph, according to a Weather Channel update to Reuters live blog.
4:07 p.m.: The NOAA has issued a flood watch for southern South Carolina and southeast Georgia, where a band of rain from Isaac has already dropped up to three inches of rain. The Weather Channel's Twitter account shared the below photo of downtown Charleston, South Carolina.
Meanwhile, authorities in Plaquemines Parish, which covers the very end of the Mississippi river, protruding into the Gulf, have ordered a dusk-to-dawn curfew, starting today, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Other cities and towns have also issued their own curfews, according to WBRZ in Baton Rouge. The weather
2:37 p.m.: The first reports of looting are coming in, as the local Fox affiliate reports one man was arrested and two others being sought for stealing property from boats in the Slidell area. Meanwhile, you can take a look at the NHC's latest advisory, though conditions haven't changed much since the last one.
1:50 p.m.: President Barack Obama has just signed an emergency declaration for Mississippi, according to CNN, authorizing federal assistance in preparing and responding to the storm.
12:52 p.m.: The Reuters hurricane tracker includes the location of oil refineries and oil platforms in the path of the storm.
12:20 p.m.: The Weather Channel, via the NHC, is now reporting that Isaac is officially a Category 1 Hurricane. Sustained winds are up to 75 mph and conditions are going "downhill" on the Gulf Coast.
11:00 a.m.: The National Hurricane Center has issued its 11:00 a.m. advisory stating that Isaac remains a tropical storm, but all hurricane warnings remain in effect. The center of the storm is now about 80 miles SSE of the Mississippi Delta, moving northwest at 10 mph, with sustained with of 70 mph. Tropical storm force winds extend out about 185 miles from the center of the storm, so the leading edge (where wind is lighter) may already be hitting land. There have been some slight changes to the size of the hurricane warning area (it now stops at the Mississippi-Alabama border, where it becomes a Tropical Storm warning), but for the most part the advisory remains unchanged from this morning. They still expect it to reach a Category 1 storm by the time it reaches land, with significant rainfall and storm surges.
10:46 a.m.: In an interview from earlier today on the Weather Channel, a spokesperson from the Army Corps of Engineers says the levees that were rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005 are made to with stand a "hundred-year storm" (or one so big that it would only happen once a century) and that Isaac will not threaten those levels of flooding or storm surge.
10:11 a.m.: The President just gave a short statement saying FEMA response teams and supplies are in place to help areas that may affected by the storm. (He also said that FEMA has been "on the ground" for more than a week.) Obama also urged residents to listen to their local authorities and follow instructions if they get them. "Now is not the time to tempt fate. Now is not the time to ignore warnings."
8:37 a.m.: The White House has announced that President Obama will give an update on the storm at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.
8:00 a.m. ET: The latest advisory was issued at 7:00 a.m. Central Time by the National Hurricane Center and puts the storm about 105 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River. The maximum sustained wins are 70 miles per hour. (A Category 1 hurricane is 75 m.p.h.)
Hurricane warnings are in effect from Morgan City, Louisiana in the west to the Alabama-Florida border in the east. All flights in and out of New Orleans have been canceled and Amtrak service has been suspended in the area.
The Weather Channel reports the storm has slowed down slightly, but is still expected to reach land sometime on Tuesday evening. Storm surges are already starting to be seen along coast of Louisiana and Mississippi and are expected to peak at 6-12 feet near the mouth of the Mississippi. The map below shows predicted levels of rainfall over the next couple of days. One silver lining is the hope that once it moves inland, it could bring some relief to drought stricken areas of the Midwest and South.
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